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We highlight these illustrations to show how important forest floors are to soil health, disaster mitigation, and water ecology in regions (like Haiti) who are most affected by natural disasters, erosion, flooding, unclean water, and drought. Look at the size of these root systems! And for a single tree! That's the power and influence that trees and forests have above and below the soil. 

Several years ago, ecologists and soil physicists received WUR funding to scan a unique set of drawings in archival quality. Their work, as shown in this "Root System Drawings" collection holds 1,180 drawings. Only three are represented above. The drawings are the outcome of 40 years of root system excavations in Europe, mainly in Austria. The drawings were scanned in Vienna.

These drawings, their analysis and description were done by University Professor Erwin Lichtenegger (1928-2004) and University Professor Lore Kutschera (1917-2008). These researchers continued to draw their findings although others had started to use photography or root samples. Their work led to several publications titled the Wurzelatlases.

The drawings cover a wide variety of species ranging from agricultural crops, to associated weeds, and also natural vegetation, from orchids to alpine shrubs and trees. They show rooting systems of individual species, each carefully isolated from their environment and drawn in fine detail.

| CLICK to visit the Wageningen University and Research Root Systems Collection